Masters Takes On a Canadian Tinge

By George WhiteMarch 11, 2004, 5:00 pm
Darkness had already started to spread across the 10th green when Mike Weir won the 2003 Masters. He was in a playoff with Len Mattiace, and Mattiace was having a terrible time getting the ball on the green.
By the time Mattiace had cuffed it around for double bogey, Weir was the winner. The boy from a small Canadian town in Ontario had grown up to become a Masters champion, and Canada would never again be quite the same.
Sure enough, Jean Chretien, then the Prime Minister of Canada, was one of the first to call and offer his congratulations.
He was with the President of the Dominican Republic, recounted Weir, and he said they were watching and he was jumping up and down, and his wife was jumping up and down, and they were very excited. He said he was very proud of me.
Now its a year later, and Weir returns to Augusta as the defending champion. And, Weir says, this year is much different.
I think I'm more recognizable than maybe what I was before, said Weir, who was born in Sarnia, Ontario. I've said before, I think even the casual golf fan tunes into the Masters. Whether it's the beauty of the place and music and everything else that they enjoy, people enjoy watching The Masters. So me winning last year, I think I'm recognized maybe more by the casual fan than the die-hard fan who did know me before. That's the big difference.
Weir lives now in Draper, Utah. Yes, hes Drapers most famous citizen. Hes one of golfs most famous, too. And being famous gives way to high expectations, he has learned.
Yeah, I think any time you win a major, expectations rise probably, said Weir. It probably gave hope to a lot of medium-range hitters that it wasn't going to be all long-ballers out there last year. It proves that you can find other ways to get it done in this game.
I've always had high expectations of myself, but I think there is probably a little bit more expectations.
Weir already has won on the PGA Tour this year, repeating as the champion of the Nissan Open. Its the seventh time he has won on the tour, and Weir has the uncanny knack of getting them in the big tournaments. Hes won a World Golf Championship event, the American Express, at Valderrama. Hes won the Tour Championship. And in addition to the Masters and Nissan, he originally won as a native son, taking the Air Canada Championship.
Along the way, the slightly built left-hander has endeared himself to fans of all nationalities. Both personally and professionally, hes the guy that most of the fans genuinely appreciate.
I think maybe the average amateur can relate to my game a little more, because I play with a lot of amateurs that hit further than I do, he confesses. Not many guys can hit it as far as Tiger and Vijay and Phil and Davis, and that's a different game that they play than even I play and amateurs play. So maybe they can relate to my game a little more.
Repeatedly last year, Weir dug deep inside during the final round at Augusta to find an inner will, something to combat the feelings of nerves, some way to get over the myriad hurdles that were laid out before him. Hes 33 now, and he doesnt think he would have succeeded five years ago.
Experience in this game is a huge factor, Weir said, and I've been through a lot of situations in the game my seven years on the tour - and other years that I was on some smaller tours - and you use all those experiences to pull yourself through tough situations.
And now hes learned what he has to have to play the majors.
The game has so many ebbs and flows, he said, and you just try to peak for the majors. You try to get your game so it does peak at that right time, because you know you can't stay there the whole time. It's too demanding physically and mentally to stay there for that long of a time.
I want to do a lot of similar things that I did last year. I'll probably stay at the same place. My preparation will hopefully be a little better. The weather conditions played a big factor in that last year. We weren't able to get on the golf course very much before the tournament.
Weir is an excellent putter, and his work with the short stick was one of the major factors in his winning last year. But just as important was his ability to concoct a good game plan and stick to it. That is what he will have to do if he is to be successful this time.
I always felt like I have a good strategy for the golf course, and that's important, said Weir. Iron play, distance control with your irons, and putting it on the smart side of the hole is at least for me the most important thing, and that's what I base my plan around playing the golf course. Whether I'm able to do that, hopefully I'm striking my irons well enough to be able to control them. But that's how I go about that place, trying to attack it.
Weir goes back to Augusta this year as the champion. He has a green jacket now, he will take advantage of the champions locker room. As defending champion, he will attend the champions dinner, even hosting this one since he is only one year removed from the ceremonies in Butler Cabin.
What will be on the menu? Weir is looking forward to having something typically Canadian ' maybe something as Canadian as coffee and doughnuts.

Yeah, he said with a laugh. Thats Canadian, for sure!
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
  • Masters Photo Gallery
  • Tee Times
  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters
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    The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

    By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

    Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

    As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

    While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

    Yeah, you heard that right.

    “I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

    Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

    Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

    Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

    As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

    Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

    Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

    A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

    Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

    With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

    First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

    “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

    Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

    We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

    The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

    These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

    Here's two more just for good measure.

    Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

    Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

    Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

    Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

    Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

    Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

    But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

    We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

    Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

    PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

    Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

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    Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

    Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

    Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

    Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

    The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

    In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.

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    Florida golfers encounter python-wrapped alligator

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 6:29 pm

    Alligator sightings are pretty common on Southern golf courses - see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

    Also, here. (RIP, Timmy the Turtle.)

    But here's one that deserves distinction.

    Those images come from the Golf Club at Fiddler's Creek, down in Naples - in case you're booking a vacation to Southwest Florida or just looking for a Hot Deal this week. Hit 'em straight, folks.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.